October 19, 2017

2. Bundesliga – Matchday 2 Preview: Six sides try to protect 100% records

After the madness on Matchday 1, 2. Bundesliga returns with a tasty-looking second matchday in prospect. Just six sides are protecting 100% records this weekend, and some will be facing a huge battle to maintain their unblemished start.

1. FC Union Berlin – Holstein Kiel – Friday 17:30 (All times in BST)

Union Berlin got their season off to the perfect start on Saturday with a 1-0 win over FC Ingolstadt 04. An early promotion clash, even at this stage of the season, and an away win to boot will no doubt have given Jens Keller a huge boost. After finishing fourth last term, Saturday’s hard-fought three points has reminded everyone why they are one of the favourites for promotion.

They’ll likely name an unchanged side with Akaki Gogia set to be sidelined for another week. Marcel Hartel might be replaced by Stephan Fürstner in a bid to up ball retention against a very strong Kiel side. That added defensive cover may aid their bid to halt a very attacking visiting midfield, as well as his added physicality and positioning over the more attacking Hartel.

It might have been over a generation in coming, but the Storks’ 2. Bundesliga return was everything anyone could have hoped for and more. After going two-nil down to Sandhausen, a monumental second-half comeback saw Marvin Ducksch strike in the final minute of added time to earn a point. Markus Anfang’s charges will be hoping they can spring yet another surprise in the capital.

The Kiel tactician should look to run out the same eleven once again after a strong showing. Manuel Janzer made a very positive impact from the bench and has forced himself into the coach’s thinking, yet it is still unlikely to disturb the wing duo of Steven Lewerenz and Kingsley Schindler. He will, however, require a stronger showing from those in the middle of the park.

SV Sandhausen – FC Ingolstadt 04 – Friday 17:30

After their late draw with Holstein Kiel, Kenan Kocak will be hoping to hold onto any lead they may earn against Ingolstadt. The Hardtwaldstadion side are going to continue with Marcel Schuhen in goal, which was confirmed by Kocak on Wednesday. It’s been a surprise to see Marco Knaller, arguably the league’s best goalkeeper, benched for the start of the season.

There are still some doubts over the fitness of Andrew Wooten and Tim Kister, who both returned to team training on Wednesday. It should be a very similar line-up to that which started against Kiel, though Tim Knipping or Marcel Seegert could replace Kister at centre-half. This will be a tough test again, but being back at home they will be confident of taking something from the game.

This game will see an early return for Thomas Pledl to his former home, and he’s spoken of his determination to get back on track after an opening day defeat to Union Berlin. Despite not getting a late penalty, Ingolstadt lacked a real clinical edge and Pledl’s creativity from midfield could be the key to opening up more opportunities for Dario Lezcano and Stefan Kutschke.

Much like their hosts, it’s unlikely that there will be much in the way of major alterations to their previous starting side. Pledl’s introduction will no doubt be welcomed. Though with transfer speculation still high surrounding both Marcel Tisserand and Florent Hadergjonaj, it is likely both will remain on the bench for the meantime. However, it only further highlights Ingolstadt’s depth to do so well without two huge players.

1. FC Kaiserslautern – SV Darmstadt 98 – Friday 19:30

Despite losing 3-0 at 1. FC Nürnberg on Sunday, there are some positives that can be taken from that game for the Red Devils. Lacklustre finishing and Marius Müller’s questionable ‘keeping were not so helping in their quest for a positive start, but chances were created and the midfield looked particularly impressive. New signings, Baris Atik and Mads Albaek in particular stood out.

They will, however, be without Patrick Ziegler, Guiliano Modica, Marcel Correia, Gervane Kastaneer and Kacper Przybylko due to injury. That means that Stipe Vucur is likely to replace Modica at the heart of defence, and it remains to be seen whether Manfred Osei Kwadwo retains his starting line-up after being brought off at half-time. Brandon Borrello may earn his debut on the right, as a possible replacement.

As for the Lilies, their start to the season was a little less action-packed. A hard-fought 1-0 win over SpVgg Greuther Fürth was enough to get the ball rolling as returnee, Tobias Kempe set up Aytac Sulu for the winner. Aside from a very assured performance from the usual protagonists, young Marvin Mehlem was superb in the middle of the park and helped Torsten Frings’ men get off to a solid start.

There shouldn’t be much in the way of changes for Frings, who has no new injury concerns ahead of the game. Despite doing the best he could with little service, it could be that there is a change made up front to allow Terrence Boyd or Jamie MacLaren to start in place of Artur Sobiech. That is, however, a minor point in a side that has thrived upon showing faith in those who do the job asked of them.

MSV Duisburg – VfL Bochum – Saturday 12:00

It was late and not so great for MSV Duisburg on Sunday, falling to a late loss against Dynamo Dresden. The game could have gone either way, with Moritz Stoppelkamp striking the woodwork and Cauly having a series of good openings. However, despite Mark Flekken’s best efforts, it just wasn’t meant to be and Lucas Röser’s dramatic headed winner was enough on the day.

Some have predicted the Zebras to struggle, but the additions they’ve made to the squad have — at least on this evidence — fairly hard to break down. They will have to replace Lukas Fröde after his late red card, with Baris Özbek in line to partner Fabian Schnellhardt. This suspension, albeit for a single game, would have been much less severe had Tim Albutat still been fit.

Opening the season with a defeat at home is never the perfect scenario, but things could have been a lot worse for Ismail Atalan’s Bochum. They gave as good as they got and recovered as a horrible first half, only to be pipped by a fantastic St. Pauli side. A change of formation to 4-2-3-1 helped stem the tide, though it is unclear whether or not they will keep faith in the 3-4-1-2 they began with.

Backed by a twice sold-out 3,000-strong away fan block, who make the 25-minute train journey to Duisburg. The team is fairly set, although a change in formation could lead to a change in personnel. Alexander Merkel has impressed in pre-season and did the same in his cameo against St. Pauli – he could come in for Selim Gündüz, and allow Stefano Celozzi into his more natural right wing-back role.

Eintracht Braunschweig – 1. FC Heidenheim – Saturday 14:30

Much like the game to open the weekend, the Lions were involved in a real cracker against Fortuna Düsseldorf. The game twisted and turned, one way and the next, but goals from Joesph Baffo and Christoffer Nyman cancelled out Marcel Sobottka’s goal and put them ahead. However, Florian Neuhaus levelled the scores before Moll was dismissed late on for a second yellow card but Braunschweig held on for a share of the spoils.

Onel Hernandez would count himself unlucky not to earn a start in this game after a brace against AC Fiorentina in mid-week. He could replace Salim Khelifi, while Domi Kumbela has been confirmed out for the next few weeks with an injury he picked up in Düsseldorf. Nyman, who scored when he replaced the DR Congo forward during the Monday match, should be the man to take his place. Moll is absent with his red card, Louis Samson looks to be the man to take over.

Heidenheim have little to go off after last weekend’s encounter against Erzgebirge Aue was rained off. That will be played next Wednesday, just before the DFB-Pokal first round ties. They should name an unchanged side from that game, and will be hoping an extra few days of rest gives them the edge over the Lions, who clearly have fitness and squad concerns.

Jahn Regensburg – 1. FC Nürnberg – Sunday 12:30

What looked to be a great start for Achim Beierlorzer’s side turned sour in the 90th minute. Having played well to be holding Arminia Bielefeld to a 1-1 draw up until the very end, a mix up between Marvin Knoll and Philipp Pentke undone all that hard work. They left the Bielefelder Alm without a point, but with plenty of positives to take from what was a dogged and determined performance.

Surprisingly effective on the break and going forward in general, the new head coach couldn’t ask for much more from the men in red. In front of a sold-out home crowd, he will be looking for a repeat performance. They should name an unchanged side from the one which fell to the late defeat on Saturday, and a passionate home crowd will only help those players.

As for Michael Köllner and his FCN, it’s all about silencing what will be an excited Continental Arena. Their 3-0 win over 1. FC Kaiserslautern was the positive start they needed to get the fans onside from day one and build towards a Bundesliga return. The youngsters more than impressed when it mattered, and there is a real feel that some of these players could be the bastions of a great team.

Patrick Kammerbauer and Eduard Löwen certainly showcased the best of the Max-Morlock-Stadion outfit’s youth at the weekend, and it’s unlikely that they’ll miss out for the Matchday 2 trip. Even with the signing of Ewerton and Ondrej Petrak waiting in the wings, Löwen and Kammerbauer are putting in very credible cases to stay ahead of their elders for the foreseeable future.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth – Arminia Bielefeld – Sunday 14:30

Janos Radoki’s Shamrocks may have fallen to a 1-0 defeat on the opening day against Darmstadt, but a strong showing after going behind. Despite Sebastian Ernst and Serdar Dursun’s best efforts, they couldn’t find a way past a resilient defence and Daniel Heuer Fernandes. Of course, had Balazs Megyeri kept out Aytac Sulu’s volley then the game could have gone either way at that stage.

Jurgen Gjasula came on for Benedikt Kirsch at half-time and will likely continue in that role after impressing in those 45 minutes. Otherwise, it’s hard to see where Radoki will make any changes with injuries still hampering a handful of new signings. That said, being back at the Ronhof and in front of their home support should have a positive influence on the team.

Arminia will have all the momentum coming into this game, after clawing back a 1-0 deficit to beat Jahn Regensburg 2-1. Not only was it a morale boost in that sense but the late nature of Andraz Sporar’s goal will surely boost morale. A solid showing all-round was what Jeff Saibene would have wanted, coming into an encounter they will be hopeful of taking a positive result from.

Nils Teixeira’s sending off in the latter stages won’t have pleased the Arminia head coach, though Florian Dick’s reliability and attacking expertise should come in handy as he begins a two-game ban. There are little other concerns around a squad that is fairly set in terms of line-up and formation. Saibene will be hoping his front four can be as dangerous in Franconia as they were in Bielefeld.

Erzgebirge Aue – Fortuna Düsseldorf – Sunday 14:30

Much like 1. FC Heidenheim, this is the first time we’ll get to see Aue this season. Thomas Letsch has not enjoyed the best of pre-season build-ups, but can take solace from the fact he still has nine of the regular side that performed so well at the end of last campaign. He will want to pick up the momentum from where Domenico Tedesco left off, especially now that the get to play their “first game” at home.

As far as Friedhelm Funkel and Fortuna are concerned, the bedlam of the Braunschweig battle has subsided somewhat. In what was a topsy-turvy clash from start to finish, the hosts managed to battle back to secure a 2-2 draw. They will be keen to make that point turn to three, though a staunch defensive effort against a side known for their flexibility in attack will be key.

Fortuna will be without captain, Oliver Fink after he picked up an injury on Monday evening. Florian Neuhaus made the most of those 50 or so minutes by stroking home the equaliser in the second half. After that performance left fans purring, he’ll be hopeful of replicating that once again on Sunday. Emir Kujovic and Havard Nielsen’s introductions off the bench could, potentially, be decisive.

FC St. Pauli – Dynamo Dresden – Monday 19:30

After Christopher Buchtmann’s goal against Bochum gave St. Pauli all three points in a fantastic display at the Ruhrstadion, attention has turned to them as potential automatic promotion candidates. They were already up in that bracket before the season started, but this win has turned heads and will do their confidence the world of good.

Olaf Janßen has no fresh injury concerns and another win in mid-week, a friendly 4-2 win over partners, Stoke City, and will look to name an unchanged line-up. Lasse Sobiech and Waldemar Sobota were two other players who were particularly impressive in Bochum, and there is no doubt both will be crucial again when Dynamo come to town.

A strong start to the season was secured in the 89th minute for Uwe Neuhaus’ men, with Lucas Röser coming off the bench to score a dramatic headed winner. A solid performance and a good showing from new signings, Sören Gonther and Patrick Möschl were further positives to take from the game. However, this clash will be a different monster from the 1-0 win over Duisburg.

Dynamo will unfortunately be without Pascal Testroet for a large part of the season after the centre-forward did serious damage to his knee. So serious, in fact, that his surgery has been postponed for two weeks because of a high inflammatory count in his blood. Röser showed he can lead the line, and with Florian Ballas and Marco Hartmann a further week forward with their fitness, we could see them start.

TV Tips

All Friday’s games are live on the Fox Soccer Match Pass, as well as Heidenheim’s trip to Braunschweig. Both Fox and BT Sport will show St. Pauli’s tussle with Dynamo on Monday evening.

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Jonathan Walsh

Jonny is a 2. Bundesliga fanatic who does little else with his time other than follow, watch, write about, think about, and promote his favorite league. When he isn't in university or trying to defend the Bundesliga's 50+1 rule, you'll most likely find him watching whatever football he can find on TV. Follow him @jonathanwalsh_

3 Comments

  1. Union – Holstein Kiel was one of the most exciting matches I’ve seen in a year. Kiel is a real show. I am amazed by their performance!

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